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Teaching Ethics

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published on October 29, 2014

Beth Dixon

Fables and Philosophy

In our local school district some teachers have chosen to use fables as a way of integrating character education into their 4th and 5th grade curriculum. This paper about fables and philosophy illustrates how to employ philosophical inquiry to discuss the moral virtues. Aristotle’s remarks about the particular moral virtue of friendliness is a paradigmatic example for writing philosophy discussion plans that cultivate ethical judgment—one component of educating for moral character. However, the methodology I recommend can be generalized to stories that are not fables, and also can be made appropriate for different grade levels. Included here is a lesson plan for Arnold Lobel’s fable “The Lobster and the Crab,” used in a 4th grade classroom. Also included is a short transcript of the students’ dialogue.

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